My Worst Fears…

When I found out that I had breast cancer… my first fear was… dying. I didn’t know how bad. The first thing out of my mouth to my older boys…. was “I want to dance with you at your wedding and hold your babies”…. they both cried. It was terrible those days not knowing how bad it was….. I didn’t have health insurance, I had life insurance…. and the last thing I wanted was my family to pay off my debts after I am gone. I wanted them to enjoy life….. So, soon after my fears were put to rest. As long as this doesn’t spread and we keep it contained, which hopefully chemo will accomplish…. My prognosis is very good. I just have to go through a lot of sucky months to get there…. probably like 18 months of sucky, actually… :/

Soon after, I met with a lady with cancer who scared me a little bit… although she was being real and honest, she said “I’ve seen men leave their wives, I’ve seen them cheat and I’ve seen some really be there for their wives”…. So, I soon found myself detaching from Darrell… becoming really distant. One of my worst fears was him leaving me because he couldn’t handle this process….. Did I really think he would? No…. but that comment really stuck out in my mind. Soon after, we discussed and we talked about it…. and he has confirmed he is going to be nothing short of supportive, loving and amazing through this process…. Ironically, he really kind of digs my bald head….

The next fear you have is losing your hair…. I’ve always had longer hair… very few times in my life has my hair been short. And, I honestly have NEVER loved my hair short…. I did it for the change. But, didn’t really love it…. so the thought of being bald, really, really scared me…. If you’ve followed my blog… you know that I had long hair, my friends encouraged me to cut it… Diane treated me to a beautiful hair cut…. then this past Saturday, I shaved it off… and I realized, hey this really isn’t so bad….. well then these past few days, it was coming out in clumps and I was getting the patchy look…. The first photo is my hair coming out on the lint roller yesterday… but that really aggravated and hurt my head…. so we decided since my husband is a professional head shaver we’d go ahead and just let him take it off…. My head hurt yesterday… today it’s almost numb to the touch, it’s very strange…

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This is the progression of my look…. I will have long hair again some day!! ❤

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My husband is amazingly proud of me. It oozes from him….. he’s not ashamed and ironically, I think he kind of digs it in a weird way…. We went out to dinner as a family before I was shiny bald and I asked them if they wanted me to wear a wig. They didn’t…. My family has been amazingly supportive of me. ❤

My next biggest fear is my breasts…. After all this is said and done… chemo check, double mastectomy check, radiation check….. I have to wait for my skin and tissue to heal before I can have reconstruction. I’ve had boobs since I was 11, actually maybe 10. When I was a teenager my boobs were abnormally large in comparison to other girls my age… Eventually, my kids sucked the life out of them…. lol And, so one thing that I’m really looking forward to is new boobies… and they will have to take the skin from somewhere and I don’t have a lot of tummy fat…. so I’m thinking maybe they can take it from the backs of my legs, maybe both areas, I’m not sure…. we’ll know more about that soon when I meet with the reconstruction docs. BUT…. there’s a chance due to the damage that my body will reject the implants…. I’m still really young, I know it’s not the END Of the world… and I can handle being flat chested for 6 months…. but, I PRAY that my body will not reject the implants! It really is such a huge fear of mine…..

I’m honestly not even worried about dying anymore…. I don’t even think about it. I don’t even allow it to enter my mind….. I’m really trying to stay positive and remain focused on each little thing I have to accomplish….

On a side note, my best friend Tracey had her first mammogram yesterday… My aunt had hers, my Mom had hers…. and I’m PRAYING for No Call Backs!!!! I cannot tell you how many women have messaged me or told me…. I had my mammogram! That is amazing…. amazing… amazing!!!!!

I don’t know still how I missed mine… after they told me I was ok… after weeks of fidgeting with my boobs, I just stopped…. I stopped completely checking them. Oh how I wished I didn’t allow them to ease my mind so much…. These days… I can feel my arm pits throbbing…. I know for 100% my left sentinel is positive… but the throbbing under both makes me suspicious. We won’t know until surgery if they are both positive or how many nodes are positive…. even being upstaged to a 3-4 doesn’t really worry me anymore…. I have come to know so many amazing women who have lived YEARS…. staged as a 4. I’m grateful to have had this time to educate myself and know more. My doctor really didn’t even want to put a stage on me…. she said but honestly that could change after surgery and at this point, if you had surgery you could and probably will be upstaged… She said it doesn’t matter… the treatment is the same. So, let’s take one thing at a time….

Totally sidetracked….. lol Sorry!

My biggest fear initially was not being here for my children…. having to explain to him why Mommy is losing her hair, etc… For him truly…. was all of this shaving, cutting, etc…. Greyson is such an aware child…. and if you explain it to him, he totally accepts it. He’s really been my rock through this…. he rubs my head. When I cry… he asks me “Are you crying Mom… or No?”…. that’s his new thing, it’s the cutest… “Do you have a surprise for me… or No?”… He keeps me focused… He told me “Mom you look funny” last night…. I asked if I was still beautiful and he said “Yes…” He is truly a Dennis the Menace…. but I love him so much.

TGIF!!!!! 5 Days til the next chemo…. :/


Yesterday I was so excited about my photos…. I forgot to post about some other things that happened….

Lady Di as we now lovingly call her…. Diane Esposito, my friend that has been helping me with my fundraiser…  she’s helped me through so much…. Well she’s just been bombarded with a lot of stuff on her plate…. besides me. So, she had an especially hard week… and it had drained her. So yesterday I used the excuse that my step daughter was in town and wanted to meet her…. which she really did…. BUT, Tillie and Marc Defang of Marc Defang New York really wanted to surprise her with HER VERY OWN personalized shoes… and since her husband Vinny is the Carolina Panther’s local DJ…. hers were themed Carolina Panthers… and oh my goodness… Marc did an amazing job…. Here are a few of the highlights of her new shoes…. Both Tillie & Diane have become such AMAZING friends to me…. I seriously love them both…. I was so glad I was well enough to be a part of this…. I’m so sorry for the set up Diane… I promise you can trust me…. ❤ Thank you Brianna from Briannastar Photography for taking these photos!!!

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As we were leaving, Tillie said… “You are just so happy… you’re glowing”…. then they asked me… “you sure you’re not pregnant?” No, No, NO!!! But…. I said… I am…. I am SO happy!!! How can I not be… 1. This has put everything into perspective…. just how important the REAL and true things are… my family, my friends…. it really has. 2. My marriage…. my husband has been truly amazing and makes me feel so loved and adored and he rubs my fuzzy head all the time….. 3. I’m surrounded by all these people who are constantly letting me know how much I’m loved…. in so many different ways…. So on the way home I told Brianna…. How can I NOT be happy? She said… yeah, I mean it really sucks…. but you really are blessed. I am….

So after that, Bri and I met my friend Sharon and her daughter Amber at Crossroads Grill for lunch… it was such a nice time. I am thoroughly enjoying something I haven’t had in a LONG, LONG time….. TIME. Time to take the time….. It feels so amazingly wonderful….. I’m so glad we made the time for lunch…

Then we went to Wal-Mart…. My brother and sister in law gave me a gift card and I went to Wal-Mart and used it on scarves and accessories…. ❤ We had so much fun…. BUT, the one thing I commented to Bri when walking through Wal-Mart…. “Everyone is looking at me”…. I’d commented on my Facebook the other day…. that I had been smiling at people… and the ones in wheelchairs that you wonder… why are they in wheelchairs… I made a special effort to smile at that lady and she smiled back and it was so heartwarming….. BUT, yesterday I felt so vulnerable. I walked in with my bald head…. and at times I forgot that I had it…. but other times people look at you and it was so uncomfortable and odd feeling. Vulnerable is the only word that I can think of….. I’m sure I’ll get used to it… my head will get balder….. and I will have no choice… But, it was different.

Then we rushed home to do my photos and the response… has been the most views on my blog so far…. I’m so humbled by that. The comments of support…. just WOW! My Mom said… don’t put them on your blog…. lol I don’t ALWAYS do what my Mamma says…. 🙂 I love you Mom!!! I hope and pray…. that other women will embrace cancer. Don’t allow it to force pity on yourself… Take your moments of strength and make those moments shining moments…. Those photos…. are exactly what I hope to do for other women when I am well….. I want women to feel empowered, I want to call it the Sunshine Project.... and really make those women feel beautiful. Embrace their chemo rash…. Yes, it’s all over my face and body and it’s NOT attractive….. and allow their skin to show…. Those will probably be the last photos of myself with my own breasts….. This spring, mine will be gone…. and I will be flat chested for months…. before I can even think about reconstruction….. I want women to feel beautiful… and I hope that my bravery will inspire them to be brave. I love you Brianna for doing this for me… and maybe you’ll come up with your own project…..

Yesterday was an amazing and emotional day!!! ❤

It’s a tearful day…

Today, everything is making me cry…. but for good reasons. I feel like this…. Cancer… has forever changed me… It’s opened my eyes to something I never really even gave a 2nd thought. This disease was something that affected OTHER people…. I honestly never feared it, I never thought it would happen to me…. (like other things I’ve experienced in my life). I feel like my spirituality is at a new level, I know…. why does it take for something bad to happen before you turn to God…. ? I felt like I had forsaken him…. No, actually I just got really busy. I told Darrell that I feel like I can feel the prayers… when I think about God… my heart feels a warmness…. I can’t leave my house, I’m basically house bound…. but, I’ve never felt so at peace, so content….

And, then I see things…. things I NEVER paid attention to…. women with breast cancer and other cancers. Fighting for their lives… but inspiring others. I watched a woman sing her heart out after undergoing  her 8th chemo treatment yesterday…. she could barely breathe…. but, she wanted to sing Hero by Mariah Carey, to love and inspire other people. The tears…. just streamed down my cheeks…. Wow, just wow!

I was talking to a friend this morning and she said… there’s a reason that it’s me. I have a strong back bone, I have the ability to see the positive in a really bad situation… I’m not having a pity party, but just taking each day as it comes and in the midst of it all…. I’m meeting new people I’d never have met in my life…. I’m inspiring other women, connecting other women… who are battling this disease…. Maybe, she’s right? Out of this…. something positive is happening…. It’s making me appreciate everything. I appreciate my family…. I appreciate my husband… I appreciate my parents… I appreciate my Mother… I appreciate my friends….. I appreciate everything that everyone is doing for me… even the simplest of things to try to make this easier for me…. It’s amazing. Truly amazing. I’m paying attention to things I just didn’t take the time to see…. I watch my husband interact with our son…. He wakes up in the night while we’re up being silly… and takes the time to join us.. missing a little sleep… I’m really listening to my 4 year old and the things he says and does… and he’s just so freaking funny…. and says the cutest things and does some not so cute things, but he just can’t help but be cute….. I watch my older boys and how they interact with my husband and my 4 year old… and it just literally WARMS my heart….

In the midst of all the badness…. really bad things going on around everyone…. children taking their lives, friends losing long time friends… there has been a lot of death lately. I went to a funeral recently and I watched the people mourning and all I could think is…. “this cannot be my family, this cannot be my friends”…. Death although it doesn’t scare me…. it scares me how the people who love me would handle it…. so it makes me even MORE committed to improving my health… and doing whatever I can personally do to try to help this disease along… or actually stop it dead in it’s tracks….

I’ve been monitoring my tumor… it’s not getting smaller that I can tell…. but it’s also not getting larger. I wanted some miracle… like an instant reaction to chemo…. and see it like miraculously shrink…. It’s not. But… it’s not growing either…. and that’s a very good thing.  I’ve changed my diet dramatically… I’ve been eating a highly alkaline diet to hopefully stop the cancer from growing…. and I received my blood tests and I’m quite impressed… so I thought I would share on my blog.

I posted to Facebook this morning…

I received my blood work…. I’ve been doing the alkaline diet for 1 month prior to my blood results…. which is basically gluten free, sugar free, lots of alkalizing foods and veggies… I do eat chicken and fish which is neutral…. (some, not a lot)…. I’d lost 12 pounds from doing it prior to chemo…

My total cholesterol… 107 (<200), triglycerides… 45 (<200) my HDL was actually low at 50 (>60) my LDL 48 (<100) I think that is quite impressive…. 


My whole focus and purpose has changed…. and it’s been so positive…amidst all the negative…. I just feel really happy. It’s such a good thing.

Also… I wanted to post something that has really helped this metallic copper taste in my mouth… Thanks to my friend Sharon….

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Chemo starts today…

It felt like so much time was going by…. waiting for all of this “real stuff” to begin…. Now looking back, it’s actually less than a month…. I’m glad I had a few “free weekends” before I had to jump right into this yucky stuff….

November 14th will forever be a day that will have new meaning to me…. The 14th’s aren’t my favorite…. I lost my baby girl on February 14th too… BOO!!!

Now December 11th will have a new meaning…. #Cancer sucks#…. I’ve never really understood how cancer affected someone close to me… I pray I never have to go through it with someone I love…. PRAY!!!!! Others in my family have gone through it… maybe I wasn’t aware… but I was not there for them…. how sad… I wished I had been…. Now I realize that it’s just a gammot of emotions. Grief, acceptance, anger and now survival… I’m in survival mode. I’ll do whatever I have to do, however sick I have to get…. to be here for my family and my children. I’ve mentioned it before… I’m very tough when it comes to pain and pushing through things…. so I feel like unless it really kicks my arse, I’ll be ok…. They say it’s like a fog… you are here, but you really aren’t…. And they’ve mentioned chemo brain…. I already have this problem… stopping mid sentence and going “what was I just saying?”… and everyone looks at me and goes… “I dunno”…. THAT should be interesting….

Last night… was an amazing night… after a not the greatest day….. I’m so thankful to Marc Defang for choosing me. We had a conversation last night…. He inspires me. He completely changed his career path after his own hardships and he’s doing amazing… and he’s a better person for it!!!! He’s a gentle and kind human being, I can tell just in my conversation with him…. I asked him why me? He said… he just felt he had to. Many of the people that have decided to hold my hand through this journey are complete strangers… people who hadn’t even known of me…. I guess beyond my work with photography…. people can see that more than anything within my life, I tried to be an honest person, a loving and loyal person… most of all if I had to describe myself…. I’m real…. There is no bull with me…. I joke around sometimes… but usually I’m pretty straight forward with my intentions, with my love and respect for you… if you deserve it. It amazes me….. that maybe people who don’t know me can see that. I’ve always looked at people’s eyes…. you can tell if people have kind eyes or distressed eyes… or disturbed eyes…. Ever see someone like that? And you watch your back… ? Don’t make eye contact!!! 😉

I feel there are so many people to thank… Lisa Walsh, Amelia Old, Katie O’Neal, Diane Esposito, Tille Bonney – Kerna, DeLayna Kenney McCallum, Lisa Gaddy, Pat Gaddy, Juliet Harless, Tracey Curry, Tess Laczo, Ines Arunguren (sp?), Sharon Williams, Andrea Owens, Kat Gedge, Brianna Horne, Marc Defang, Lingky Sugg, Scott Forbes, Ted Greve, Stacey Hunsucker, Brenda Graham, Theresa Staker, Jen Lane, Jamie Geiss, Rebecca Nagy, Dayna Robidoux (she donated her hair!!), {Amy Rayfield, Kristin Hagemann – donated their hair recently}, MY MOM!!, Gaye Pietrocola, Patty Daute, Darrell Gaddy… my hubs, Taylor Thielen… thank you for coming back home, Preston Thielen… thank you for never leaving… If I’ve forgotten you, I’m soooo sorry…. It’s so overwhelming the love and support I have received through this time… and my memory will probably not get better!

Brianna Horne… last night, you made us that video…. and your Dad and I just crumbled… the first time we watched…. we were crying so hard, we didn’t even see the last photo….. You are an amazing girl and I love you so much! The 2nd time we watched… we cried all over again, but noticed….. That was sooooo special!!!! ❤

Love you allllll soo much!!! Thank you Diane for organizing the fundraiser… I PRAY I can be there….thank you for trying to make this a little easier on our family…..

Many, many thanks to everyone…. for everything that has been done for us…. dinners, cards… gifts of money, gifts, gifts, gifts….. I am so blessed….. I’ve said several times… people are probably like.. “It’s just cancer”… people go through this all the time…. why all of this? Why all of this???? I don’t know….. I will not question it….. I joked last night, I said… what will I do when all these gifts and visits stop…. and Diane said… “You’ll have lots of new girlfriends”….. *tears falling down my face* Amazing. It truly is…. I think all the tears I have left… are cried out….. so today… I’m going to go upstairs and get myself ready…. I’d LOVE to wear my new shoes, but I just can’t do it…. they are so pretty, I don’t know if I’ll ever have the courage to wear them….. I’m going to put on my face…. and FIGHT LIKE A GIRL….



It’s so easy to get caught up in your day to day… Trust me, I was one of those people. I had no time for anyone, not because I didn’t want to… but it couldn’t get it all done if I did take the time… I didn’t have control of it, I didn’t manage it well, I made a lot of brides very happy….. but I lost me, I lost family, I lost friends.. (well thankfully they understood)… but I lost sight of so much….

I told another local photographer this morning, how humbled I am… I literally would do whatever I have to…. to give back to those who have helped me and are considering helping me. I am so grateful for those with so much on their plate already, agreeing to take some of my load…. It’s incredibly humbling.

I never paid attention before… I never had a reason to… We were at Jason’s Deli the other day… and I noticed the water bottles, pink caps and a photo on them… of ladies with bandannas…. I never noticed before. Why does it take for someone to become ill…. for people to notice? I guess if it doesn’t affect you, or someone close to you… you don’t notice. Change is welcomed at any time…. and it doesn’t matter what caused the change…. but it’s just important that you do.

I feel forever changed… in positive ways… I will help others however I possibly can….

As tomorrow approaches… and as I worry about things to come… I will try to focus on the positive…

So many people are rallying for me…. it’s truly amazing.

Am I ready for this???

Today, my journey begins…. I get my port put in… the port will allow them easy access to put my medicine in and take blood easily….

It’s felt so surreal…. until now…

Tomorrow I have to start taking steroids to prepare…

Wednesday I’ll start TAC chemo…

Initially, I felt like I had an army behind me…. But, it’s become more of a circle now…. I’ve had this amazing circle of people who’ve surrounded me…. I know that this is probably going to be one of the hardest experiences I will ever have to go through… but with this circle of people who’ve proven to love and care about me…. I feel like I am ready…

I’m scared. I’m really scared…. but, I can do this….




I want to talk a little bit about my experience… I had my first mammogram at 39… I have very dense breasts…. If you’ve been told you have dense breasts…. it’s not a reason to be concerned, but it means that if you have something that is in there hiding, it may not show up on Mammogram… That’s the scary part…

In a book that I’m reading…


On average it takes 100 days or more for a cancer cell to double in size. It takes about 10 years for cells to divide to a size that can be actually felt. The EVERYTHING Health Guide to Living With Breast Cancer

That means… in my opinion…. when I went in April, what I felt…. was not a cyst. It was just not detectable on mammogram OR ultrasound… but it was most likely there…

This week when I went to my oncologist… he told me… if I’d have come and it was 1 cm… I probably would not even need chemotherapy, I’d take tamoxifen and I’d have a lumpectomy most likely and be on my way… That was a real blow to me… that means if I’d have been more aware… and I’d have said… hey, but I feel something, can we pursue this further… Maybe, they’d have caught it.

Fast forward to November… what I have going on… I honestly don’t know how I didn’t see it… because I was busy, that’s what I keep telling myself… Looking down on my breast, it doesn’t look different.. its when you’re looking at it straight on… which is why I noticed in the mirror… Which is why I guess they tell you EVERY MONTH, inspect your breasts IN FRONT OF A MIRROR…. I didn’t pay attention. They told me I was fine… I believed it… who wouldn’t WANT to believe it…

Now it’s SO big… I don’t know ultimately if their fact is truly a fact… because what I had in April is nowhere near like what I have now and it seems to be a ton bigger…. although it probably was more like 175 days… so maybe? Whatever…. that is scary! Now because of the size, I have to have chemo, I have to have a mastectomy… and most likely radiation… and I have to be on Tamoxifen for 10 years at least…

I’ve known a lot of people who’ve gone for their mammograms… and HECK YES!!!! If I’m creating awareness… at least through what I am going through… people are taking it seriously and getting checked… Another photog friend was called back after her mammo… and she was scared to death… luckily, they told her it was only a vein… I told her, to be her own advocate and keep feeling those breasts and ask them to re-check her in a few-6 months… Doctors are going to hate me… lol But, it’s serious… and if it can’t be detected on mammogram…. and that’s our gauge? We HAVE to be our own advocates… We know our bodies… we should speak for our own health.

So, when I went this past month…. My mammogram BARELY detected this LARGE tumor.. it’s 4cm and probably bigger by now… it’s had 30 more days to brew…. it’s visible outside the skin now… The ultrasound… showed a 1 cm something or other…. but it was because of how my breast is presenting that they really took this seriously…. The MRI was ultimately what showed the true size of the tumor…. and remember… with LOBULAR cancer… which I have both Invasive Lobular and Invasive Ductal… The lobular spreads like tentacles, it was compared to crabgrass… it spreads and weaves it’s way in there…. THAT cannot be detected on mammogram…. With all of the science and technology… there has to be a way to detect these things… before it gets to the point that it HAS to be treated with chemo…

Let me talk about my aunt Patty for a minute… she was a good girl, she went ON TIME for her yearly mammogram (unlike my Mom and my other aunt who’ve put theirs off for 6 additional months… tsk, tsk…. ;)… so she went for her mammogram and they saw a blip on the radar… she is post menopausal… so they took it seriously…. they couldn’t even see it on the ultrasound… they had to look and look and look and finally found it…. It was found… It was stage 0, but… she opted to have the breasts both removed.. and reconstructed, she did not need chemo and was able to reconstruct right away…. If you have to have cancer… that’s ideal… but because of the lobular, there’s a much higher incidence that it can come back in the other breast…. so she opted to have both removed… which was very smart. Ironically, this past summer…. we were there in Wisconsin and she showed me her prized jewels…. they look so NICE!!!! If at the end of all of this… I come out with a tummy tuck and a new set, I’ll be thrilled…. but with all I’m going through there’s a large chance my body will reject… let’s pray NOT!!!!

My point is… don’t put off your mammograms…. and if YOU feel something… don’t accept it’s “just a cyst” like I did….. if it has been there, potentially 10 years to reach this size??? I’m not sure that I believe that… but it’s been there longer than I realized… Their point in that is… we think it’s critical… get this thing out of me NOW!!! But, it’s really not that big of a crisis… you have time to make informed decisions…. I’ve been very much like… “c’mon… let’s get this moving… this thing is changing constantly” I’ve been documenting it and someday maybe I’ll be brave enough to put my boobs out there for all to see…. but this is a blog and children can see it…. so I don’t want to do that… plus, I don’t know who’s reading… BUT,  I think it would be very helpful and would help create awareness…. so maybe someday I will….

If one person reads this… just one person….. and her breasts are saved…. because of this awareness, everything I will go through is worth it…..